Published On: Tue, Jan 25th, 2022

Gary Morton, Managing Director of Central Window Systems

First Job: Thermoseal Services – Service Engineer. I’d gone grape-picking in France to
‘find myself’, then came back and found myself unemployed. I saw the job in the local paper.
When did you set up Central Window Systems: 1995 – It was originally set up as Central Express Windows.
Most useful/favourite gadget: My Watt Bike. If you’d asked me three months ago, I would have said my iPhone!
Favourite/most useful website: Previously I would have said Google, now I would say Amazon.
Business person you admire: There are two people that I consider as mentors. The first is John Parkinson, my non-exec chairman at Status Systems. He was a huge support to me during some pretty turbulent times in the early days of my career, and I learned a lot from him. The second is another former boss of mine, Clement De Meersman. He was an invaluable help to me when I was working to merge Status Systems and Deceuninck in the UK. I still go to him for advice today and enjoy the occasional phone call or catch up over social media.
What lesson have you learnt about business over the last 12 months: Never to take anything for granted. The fact that we chose to invest in Central Window Systems rather than taking cash out of the business has proved very much to be the right decision.
What has helped you during lockdown: Having such a strong team here at Central and being really collective in our efforts to keep everything going. People have gone above and beyond quite regularly over the past year. We’ve also been redoubling our charitable efforts during this time to make sure the kids and families at Hope House are looked after, and that’s served as a platform for me in keeping my feet on the ground. It’s a constant reminder that there’s always someone out there who’s an awful lot worse off than you are, which makes me appreciate what I have every day.
Best business decision: Buying Central back in 2015.
Other interests: Cycling and trying to keep myself in shape. Other than that, the charity work I’m involved in brings me great joy.

Working Day: I’m usually awake anywhere between 5am and 7am. I enjoy a bowl of porridge for breakfast and then head off to the gym, or work. I usually get to work at about 10am, and then about 30 to 40% of my working day is spent on charity work. As well as GM Fundraising, I’m also on the board of trustees at Hope House Children’s Hospices and help to raise money for mental health charities. I always have about 5 or 6 charitable initiatives running at any one time. I’m not the kind of person who can work from home – I much prefer coming into the office. This year I have decided to take time out fairly regularly. I’m confident in the brilliant team we have here, and I know if they need me, they’ll call me!

Working Location: Our 52,000 ft2 manufacturing facility is based in West Bromwich. Before the pandemic, I’d be out on the road about twice a week, meeting up with the many contacts I’ve built up over the years. I’ve met most of them through charity, and many have ended up being people I do business with. Not being able to meet with them is one element of lockdown that’s really affected me.


As a business, Central has come a very long way over the last few decades. After getting my first proper job at Thermoseal, I’d worked at Window Machinery Sales, Premier Profiles, and Range Valley Engineering (Status Systems) among other firms, before eventually ending up at Deceuninck when they bought Status Systems. It was at Status that we first had the idea to launch what would become Central Express Windows – but to be honest, I didn’t have much involvement in it at all in the early days. It was relatively small, and I just invested some money in it. After five years, I decided to take Central more seriously. I bought a factory and a load of kit, then spent a few years steadily growing it. I still hadn’t committed to it for the long-term, though. I eventually sold it to John Allen, who merged it with his own manufacturing business. However, a few years later I had a change of heart and bought it back – and that’s been my main focus for the last six years.

The birth of Central Window Systems – By 2020, we’d created a group with two companies – Central RPL and Central ASL which specialised in aluminium. Then, in February this year, we merged them. It was a move we’d been considering for a while – it just seemed to make sense, because there were so many synergies between the two companies and doing so would allow us to offer a better, more joined-up service. It was always going to be a risky move, especially given the year we’ve all just had. You never know how people are going to react. But I’m pleased to say that, so far, the response has been extremely positive. We’ve now completed the management team with the appointment of Matthew Kelly, our new Operations Director, which means we’ve now got a very rounded, solid team in operations, finance and sales. These days, my role is more strategic, and about product development and customer support. The team here ‘roll me out’ whenever they feel the need!

A promising few years ahead – Despite the massive disruption caused by coronavirus, business over the last year has been extremely good, largely off the back of a very buoyant market. It’s obviously impossible to know for certain what’s over the horizon – but personally, I don’t see any change for a fair few years. I can’t see the market consolidating, purely because of the sheer amount of capacity that’s been taken out. Our business is driven by two things – demand, and capacity in the market. Sadly, there’s been a huge reduction in the number of fabricators, which equates to thousands of frames every month. So obviously we’ve been aided by that. We’ve also been helped by the fact we’ve consistently chosen to invest in the business rather than take money out. By spending on the products, the brand, the capital and the people, we’ve created a really solid foundation which has put us in good stead.

Housing and fenestration go hand in hand – We are still extremely busy at the moment, so much so that we’ve now started a second shift. We are just waiting for the full benefit of that to kick in. We have also been getting a lot more involved in commercial contracts in recent years. We all know the government will try and stimulate the economy post-COVID with infrastructure spending, and we will probably have benefit from that as well. There are promising signs coming from the housing sector, too. The government has deferred stamp duty again until the end of June, and after that the nil rate band will be set at £250,000 – double the normal level – until the end of September. Additionally, we have a significant rise of working from home. Thousands of people are suddenly investing in outbuildings, extensions, and room conversions – and they all require windows and roofs. For all those reasons, I’m fairly confident about the next two or three years.

Helping charities get back on their feet – Another key focus for me at the moment is my charity work. Twenty-five years ago, I had no idea GM Fundraising would turn into the force it eventually became. Sadly, it’s more or less been cut off at the root because of COVID. But we’re determined to resurrect it and have some great initiatives being worked on. We’re just about to launch the GMF 100, where a limited number of teams cycle 100 miles, with an entry fee and sponsorship per rider. I feel there’s a big appetite from the public right now to help charities, so I’m optimistic about what we can achieve. I get an awful lot more out of it than what I put in. I’ve seen things, and done things, and developed relationships that I never would have if it wasn’t for GM Fundraising. So, it’s paid me back in spades.